Senate Hearing on Adult Stem Cell Research Has Tempers Flaring
by Steven Ertelt
July 15, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — It was supposed to focus on "good news" associated with advances made in the field of adult stem cell research, but tempers flared at a Senate hearing on Wednesday when one advocate of the destructive research asked a scientist whether she was part of a pro-life organization.
Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, called the meeting of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on science, and said "this is a good news hearing" to focus on the progress scientists have made with adult stem cells.
They are considered noncontroversial because, unlike embryonic stem cells, they are not obtained by destroying human life.
Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson of the University of Alabama at Birmingham was one of the witnesses who testified. She told the senators that adult stem cells work at least as well as embryonic stem cells — if not better — when it comes to treating diseases.
That’s when Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, interjected, reminded Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson she was under oath, and asked, "Are you a member of a pro-life committee?"
Brownback questioned the relevance of the question, but Lautenberg persisted.
"Whether I’m pro-life or pro-choice, I wish all these types of things could be kept out of the discussion," Dr. Peduzzi-Nelson responded.
Peduzzi-Nelson said she didn’t recall joining any group on either side of the abortion debate, but said she thought embryonic stem cell research was the needless destruction of human life in the face of adult stem cell research successes.
Then, as soon as Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden grabbed a microphone to begin his turn at questioning the panel, he ignored Brownback’s plea to discuss adult stem cells and launched into a defense of embryonic stem cell research.
"While the research shows that using adult stem cells can help some people," Wyden said, "there are millions of Americans who suffer from a host of devastating diseases (along with) their valiantly supportive families who, I believe, deserve more."
Despite the outbursts, several witnesses came forward to testify about their successful treatments for spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease using adult stem cells.
Laura Dominguez and Susan Fajt never thought they would walk again after near-fatal automobile accidents that left them paralyzed with severe spinal cord injuries. But, once they received treatments with their own adult stem cells, they were able to walk with the aid of braces.
Dominguez was a quadriplegic at the age of 16 after the accident, but treatment using her olfactory sinus stem cells helped her walk with braces. Fajt benefited from an experimental new adult stem cell treatment.
A dramatic video was shown to members of the Senate committee showing Dominguez swimming without assistance thanks to the adult stem cell treatments.
Another patient, Dennis Turner, testified about the adult stem cell treatment he received. A Parkinson’s disease patient, Turner found his shaking and other symptoms relieved and improved so much that he could return to his favorite hobby, photographing wild animals.
Not only could Turner take pictures without shaking, but he could flee from a charging rhinoceros.